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Our recommendations for N.C. House, Senate

Republican lawmakers redrew district lines last year and changed the demographics in several N.C. legislative districts to favor Republicans. It’s what Democrats did when they held power.

But voters still have the final say on who gets elected. Here are the editorial board’s recommendations in Mecklenburg races for the N.C. General Assembly:

Senate District 37

This district remains Democratic with 43 percent registered voters who are Democrats and 29 percent who are Republican. Incumbent Democrat Dan Clodfelter is one of the more diligent legislators in Raleigh. He has pushed steadily for modernizing the state’s revenue system. He counts as one of his most important accomplishments his principal sponsorship of legislation creating the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission, an independent truth-seeking panel which examines credible post-conviction claims of innocence.

Clodfelter’s Republican challenger, Michael Alan Vadini, has no political experience and is a relative unknown. He offers no credible reason to oust a smart, committed and hardworking lawmaker. We recommend Dan Clodfelter.

Senate District 38

In this heavily Democratic district – 59 percent of registered voters are Democrats compared with about 18 percent Republicans and nearly 23 percent unaffiliated – Democrat Joel Ford has the advantage. But he’s the better choice regardless of party affiliation.

Ford, 42, is a former chairman of the Mecklenburg Democratic Party, chairman of the Charlotte Housing Authority and a member of the board of advisers of the Stratford-Richardson YMCA. He has been effective in all those roles. He would be a solid advocate for Charlotte in the legislature.

Ford’s opponent, Richard Rivette, is a marketing and business development executive. In the primary, we declined to endorse him or his opponent. We didn’t think either would make an effective legislator. We haven’t changed our minds. We recommend Joel Ford.

Senate District 39

We disagree often with Bob Rucho. The Republican state senator from Matthews has voted for an intrusive law that would require women to get unnecessary ultrasounds in an effort to change their minds about receiving an abortion. He voted for a constitutional amendment that defines marriage in a way that’s discriminatory to homosexuals. He gave away local control over tree cutting by co-sponsoring a billboard industry friendly law that could steal from our state’s beauty. That’s just a sampling of how Rucho and Republicans took our state in the wrong direction the past two years.

Rucho’s District 39 opponent, Democrat Jack Flynn, ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2004 and for an at-large Charlotte City Council seat in 2007. Flynn, who lives in south Charlotte, advocates for more education spending along with changing the N.C. schools curriculum to fit the needs of N.C. businesses.

Flynn’s views, however, are largely out of step with many constituents in his conservative district. Rucho is a better fit and a hardworking legislator. We recommend Rucho.

Senate District 40

Democrat Malcolm Graham hopes to be elected to a fifth – and final, he says - term in the N.C. Senate. He is running against Republican Earl Lyndon Philip.

Graham’s last term was his most difficult as a Democrat in a Republican-controlled legislature, but he navigated it well. He showed his ability to work across the aisle for legislation that lifted a cap on charter schools, but he also was a strong voice in opposing Republican underfunding of pre-K programs and a voter ID bill that disenfranchised blacks.

Philip, a political consultant and full-time doctoral student, said he would push for more jobs in North Carolina by cutting red tape and regulations.

Malcolm Graham is the better choice.

House District 88

Nine-term incumbent Democrat Martha Alexander has seen her House district rejiggered to give an edge to registered voters who are Republicans. The breakdown of registered voters is 33 percent Democrat, 38 percent Republican and 29 percent unaffiliated.

But Republican challenger Rob Bryan still has to overcome Alexander’s long, productive service in the legislature. She does her homework and is attentive to constituents. She has co-chaired the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and is vice chair of the House Education Committee. She says if reelected, she will continue to fight for social justice, women’s issues and respond to constituent needs.

Bryan, a commercial real estate lawyer, is a former Mecklenburg County Republican chair. A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and Duke law school, he taught in an inner-city Los Angeles school in the Teach for America program for two years.

He is smart, personable and engaged in civic affairs. Bryan and Alexander agreed on several things at a recent debate, though Bryan generally favors smaller state government and less regulation.

Bryan has a bright future in politics. But in this race, we think Alexander is still the better choice. She has a wealth of legislative experience and has done a good job.

House District 92

This new district is almost evenly split politically: Among registered voters, 36.4 percent are Democrats, 34.2 percent are Republican, and the unaffiliated aren’t far behind at 29.2 percent. There are two good choices for this seat. Both Robin Bradford and Charles Jeter are smart, engaged and knowledgeable.

Bradford is a community activist, who ran for Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board in 2009. She wants to focus on improving education, helping small businesses and growing the N.C. economy and environmental issues like protecting drinking water.

Jeter, a Huntersville town commissioner for seven years, is a conservative who understands that not all government spending is bad. He’s criticized cuts to the state’s prekindergarten program that Republican lawmakers made last year, saying it’s wrong to balance the budget “on the backs of children.” We like his willingness to focus more on needs than ideology. It’s a view badly needed in the state legislature.

Jeter has broader knowledge of the issues facing the legislature, especially tax reforms. And in a Republican-dominated House, we like the moderate view he would take. We recommend Charles Jeter.

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